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Hal Higdon's 7-7-70 Quest - Carleton College

Carleton College, a small liberal arts institution in Northfield, Minnesota, played an integral role in my career, helping me mature both as an athlete and as an individual. I arrived on the Northfield campus in the fall of 1949 with some talents, but they had not yet been honed.

Certainly this was true with my running. Although I had competed as a track athlete in high school, I had not yet run very fast in my main event, the mile. The marathon was not yet even a gleam in my eye, but I won Midwest Conference championships and served as team captain. I am most proud of having led both the cross-country and track teams to conference championships in 1953, my senior year. Carleton had not won team titles in those sports for years, but after my graduation, the college dominated the conference for several decades.

On occasion, I have written about my Carleton experiences. A decade after graduation, I wrote a first-person article about three small-college athletes travelling to California to compete in the NCAA Championships and  Olympic Trials. Sports Illustrated published the article, later reprinted as a chapter in my book, On The Run From Dogs And People. That book is currently out of print, but if you would like to read what I wrote, go to: A Time of Wonder, Joy and Glory for Losers.

More recently I wrote another essay (unpublished) for Runner's World describing a return to campus to run the routes that held so many happy memories for me. Alas, because of construction, most of those trails have disappeared. To read my essay, go to: Trails Once Trod.

Beyond Running

But I did more than run at Carleton College. Through high school, my main talent was as an artist and cartoonist. I expected to major in Art at Carleton, and did, assuming I would continue in that field after graduation. But never underestimate the effect of a good teacher. As a freshman, I enrolled in an English class taught by Ralph Henry. The focus of Dr. Henry's class was creative writing. He helped steer me onto my career course. From contacts we had later, I know it was a great source of pride to Dr. Henry that one of his students had gone on to be published in national magazines and to write best-selling books.

Over the years, I have maintained contact with Carleton, returning for reunions and other activities. One recent alumni trip took my wife Rose and I to Santa Fe, New Mexico to visit art galleries and attend the opera. Go to: Awash in the Arts.

Most recently, I have joined the planning committee for my class's 50th reunion in June, 2003. Since the first of my seven marathons was Grandma's in Duluth, Minnesota, it thus seemed natural to connect that with my alma mater in Northfield, Minnesota.

In seeking donations, I have asked members of my class of 1953 to pledge a specific sum of money for every mile run in Grandma's Marathon, or for all the miles of my seven marathons. This would be $26, or $183, in addition to their regular annual donations. I am making a similar plea to those alumni who participated in cross-country or track & field while at Carleton. But certainly anybody is welcome to contribute, and if you know someone who is a Carleton graduate, please send him or her my way. As of my 70th birthday, 72 classmates and other alumni had donated or pledged $8,850.

You can make your donation by mailing a check or pledge card marked "Hal Higdon Marathon" to: Carleton College, Gift Accounting Office, Leighton 129, 1  North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057-4070. You can also donate by accessing Carleton's Website. Or you can donate online over a secure connection to this and other charities. Go to: How To Donate.

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